Tree Foundation of Kern

Urban Forester

To care for urban forest ecosystems within metropolitan and surrounding areas for the benefit of residents of the area and the natural environment.

Living in an urban environment has typically meant living a life disconnected from nature, but urban foresters are working to change that by creating a new kind of forest, one that thrives within the city to help balance the fast-paced urban environment.

"Foresters have a love for trees but want to get away from people," said urban forester Eric Oldar who is the state coordinator of urban and community forests. "Urban foresters love trees and love people."

"It's very challenging," Oldar said. "We are retooling communities to understand the need for ecosystem management and giving them directions to take."

Just as urban forestry brings trees back into the city, the career of urban forester brings these professionals back into the office where they work to help shape decisions and policy for urban planning.

The field of urban forestry has emerged within the last three decades and is becoming more important as society revolves more and more around the urban environment.

City trees, once managed and planned by city arborists, are now coming more and more under the care of urban foresters who look not only at the health of specific trees but also at the city ecosystem and look for ways to improve and sustain the environment.

"A career in urban forestry is an exciting opportunity for someone interested in the natural side of life," said Ken Delfino who worked with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "Urban forestry has a good combination between natural sciences and social sciences. You can do really positive things socially using urban forestry skills."

"As global warming and water and air pollution get worse, urban foresters are key people to assist with solutions," Delfino said. "As cities expand and the public demands a more livable environment, urban foresters will be key. There is an increasing demand for them, and the field will expand."

Urban foresters need a technical knowledge of biology and biological processes including soils and irrigation systems along with a general knowledge of forest ecology. A four-year degree in forestry management or urban forestry provides the essential background in ecosystem management.

Urban foresters are often called on to help residents with tree care and tree problems such as proper planting, pruning and maintenance techniques as well as helping residents select the proper tree species.

Good communication skills, both written and verbal, are vital for the urban forester when working with the public, community agencies and local government.

"It's very satisfying," Delfino said. "Helping the city environment, helping nature and helping citizens."

Requires: 4 year degree and good communication skills.

Salary: Starts in the low $40,000's and peak at $60,000. Need ability to work with groups, organizations and political bodies.